Strength in depth proves vital
Man of the Match, Harry Scarr
Buckingham travelled to neighbours Aylesbury in good spirits despite being shorn of four of their most influential players, in particular Pat Ockendon and Euan Prime both suffered painful injuries in the victory over Reading Abbey which will keep them both side- lined for a number of months. We wish them both a speedy recovery. Unlike in some previous years however, Coach White now has the strength in depth within the squad to ensure quality is replaced with quality and so it proved to be, with both Jim Barker and Harry Scarr being top contenders for the Man of the Match Award .
Buckingham started confidently with a positive take and drive by Scarr from the kick off. The ball was recycled and the rangy boot of fly half Nagy sent the ball well into the opposition half. Aylesbury responded to give a Buckingham line out on halfway from which scrum half Chalmers made a typical sniping run and managed to link up with No.8 Barker who powered on setting up a ruck inside the Aylesbury 22. The move being ended when the ball was knocked on by Buckingham under pressure from the advancing Aylesbury defensive line.
The first scrummage was to be a transformation from what the Buckingham support had been accustomed to seeing. The Buckingham pack, with great timing, shunted the Aylesbury pack back at a rate of knots. This was to be a feature of the game and it was only due to clear channelling of the ball that the Aylesbury No. 8 was able to pick up and rescue the situation on a number of occasions. This time Aylesbury managed to feed their winger who made it up to the half way line. Aylesbury were awarded a penalty for a lineout offence and sent the ball into the Buckingham 22 for a further lineout. Buckingham, through the quick reaction of prop forward Tomkinson to an overthrown ball, stole the ball , which was fed back to Nagy to clear.
The first real chance of a try came from a Buckingham scrum when No.8 Barker picked up, dummied, and released winger Craig Coxon who side stepped his opposite number and handed off one covering defender, only to be driven into touch by the next defender before he could regain top speed. Whilst Aylesbury cleared up-field from the lineout Buckingham came back into the Aylesbury 22 with the forwards displaying their power not only in the scrum, but in their “ pick up and go” runs from the base of the rucks. Back rowers Cooper, Scarr and Barker sharing the load and building well on the efforts of the front five. It seemed only a matter of time before the first score, and it came when Nagy converted a penalty given just in front of the posts following constant Buckingham pressure. Aylesbury 0 - Buckingham 3.
The next Buckingham score was not far away as after another fine take and drive by Scarr, and long clearance by Nagy, Aylesbury spilled the ball on their attempted counter attack. Barker pounced on the same and set sail for the try line. Only by the time he got to the 22 did he and Aylesbury seem to realise that with the pace he had achieved he could make it all the way to the line! He duly slid over in the corner with the Aylesbury cover grimly hanging on. Aylesbury 0 - Buckingham 8. Try unconverted.
Buckingham continued to be in the ascendancy and working off of their dominant scrum entered the Aylesbury 22 with a series of rucks. The final Buckingham score of the half coming when the ball was recycled along the back line and full back Joel Coxon joining the line to execute an excellent “no gather” pass to put winger C. Coxon in space. The winger stepping inside one defender and handing off another to score wide out. Nagy converting with a fine kick. Aylesbury 0 - Buckingham 15.
From the restart Aylesbury were awarded a penalty for blocking, and before Buckingham could set their defence the hard running Aylesbury No. 13 who gave Buckingham trouble all game, crashed over for an unconverted try. Aylesbury 5 - Buckingham 15. The game then became less structured with Aylesbury also choosing to run back with ball in hand rather than play the territorial kicking game against Nagy which they were clearly losing . The half ending on a period of Aylesbury pressure with a try close to the posts which was duly converted. Half time score Aylesbury 12 - Buckingham 15 .
Buckingham, no doubt disappointed with the half time score line, imposed themselves once more in the scrum and after 3 mins of the second half drove Aylesbury pack back five yards and were justly rewarded with a penalty converted by Nagy. Aylesbury 12 Buckingham 18.
The next score came when, following Aylesbury attacking down the centre, Buckingham’s Matt Glendenning intercepted a pass and raced over the half way line. Seeing the cover coming he fed back inside to Nagy who also realised he could not make it to the line with ball in hand and put in a finely judged kick to make it a clear foot race as the ball bobbled close to the line. Whilst Aylesbury arrived first the enthusiastic chase by the Buckingham backs forced the ball free and Vice-Captain Jamie Lee touched down. A lapse in concentration by Nagy left the try unconverted, even though the Aylesbury score board managed to give him the two points! Actual score; Aylesbury 12 - Buckingham 23.
From the restart Buckingham executed their exit plan once more with Scarr’s determined running and Nagy’s boot, but it was Aylesbury who were to score next. Following Barker’s only misdemeanour of the game by an unnecessary push on the opposition Aylesbury enjoyed a small period of pressure in the Buckingham half resulting in a converted try for Aylesbury. Aylesbury 19 - Buckingham 23.
Fearing that a game they should have won well by now may be in doubt ,Buckingham stepped up the forward pressure, and with their line out also operating well reverted to the driving maul from a lineout only ten metres out. Aylesbury had no choice but to pull it down and their No.8 duly took one for the team and was sin binned. Buckingham opted for the scrum, and as anticipated rumbled towards a certain try, only to be denied by an illegal collapse. The seven point penalty try being unhesitatingly awarded to Buckingham by the referee. Aylesbury 19 - Buckingham 30.
With Ed Kinman brought on to see out the final 15 minutes of the game at fly half and Nagy moving to full back the contest was effectively ended when following a kick and chase by Kinman Buckingham were awarded a penalty in the Aylesbury 22. Choosing to run rather than kick Buckingham eventually recycled the ball to Kinman who again chose to kick the ball close to the posts but was obstructed in his chase and was awarded the penalty to make the score Aylesbury 19 Buckingham 33.
This score served to galvanise Aylesbury however, and with realistically only a bonus point to gain from the match, they increased the tempo of their game and scored a try in the last move of the game which was converted to make the final score Aylesbury 26 Buckingham 33. Coach White will not have been happy to concede the bonus point or that the score did not reflect his team’s dominance in the set pieces, and in particular the scrum, but it does set the scene for an exciting Cup game this Saturday when Buckingham will host Aylesbury at home.
Man of the match Harry Scarr for his exemplary exits from restarts, hard running and all round enthusiasm.